Saturday, August 23, 2008

Funeral Mafioso


I don’t know. Maybe it was the shear boredom of the situation. Maybe it was the stretch limousine and the 3 piece suits. Maybe it was because David jumped in the back and told me that I could chauffeur him back to The Home.

After the graveside service we had loaded the family in the limo and taken them to their home to pick up the equipment that we left. We always took 2 death signs to put down the road on either side of their house. We also took folding chairs and a podium with registration book so that the family would have a record of everyone that stopped by their home to pay their respects. This was meant to make it easier on the family when they decided to send “Thank You” notes. But I know it was also concrete evidence of their true friends; the ones who visited before or after the Funeral and the ones who didn’t. If a family didn’t visit during your time of sorrow you were not obligated to visit them during their time of need. If you did, it was a sign of your sainthood and your easy access to heaven. This smugness could be taken with you to Church on Sunday and everyone understood.

David was hungry and told me to find the next service station so we could grab a snack. I pulled in the first station we came to and parked at the far side of the lot. The limo needed plenty of room to maneuver; you didn’t just park it anywhere. I was amused, but not surprised to find that the gentlemen inside the store were staring out the window at the wonder before them.

I need to point out one thing. Our hearse had little “The Home” signs in the windows so that everyone would know where we worked. As if anyone in the County didn’t know our hearses from those of the competition. Our limousine, however, had no markings what so ever. There was one distinguished characteristic about our limo in that the King may have ridden in it.

When we bought the Limo it was one of two on the lot that were exactly the same. One of them had been used for some period to shuttle Elvis around. But there was no record of which was which. This was before the Internet when you could Google anything you needed to find. We had a 50/50 shot that we were sitting in a car that had carried royalty and we lived as if it had.

We were across state lines and these folks had never seen our ride before. They might’ve thought that Elvis could emerge from the interior at any moment.

Just as David moved to get out of the car I told him to wait. We were both in 3 piece suits and sported dark sunglasses. I told him to follow my lead.

I got out and looked up and down the highway as if to be sure the coast was clear. I grabbed the handle of the back door and put my other hand to my ear as if I were confirming my actions with Mission Control. I opened the door to the limo and followed David to the Station. I opened the door and followed him in. We never spoke a word and no one ever spoke to us. They were too afraid.

We grabbed our crackers and sodas and I paid for it all. As I stepped through the door I again put my hand to one ear and scanned the highway in both directions. I nodded to David and we hurried to the Limo and I seated him in the back. When I started the car I stared at the gentlemen in the station for about half a minute as if to say “You must never tell anyone what you have seen today!” They slunk from the door as we pulled away.

As we hit the highway, David got on his knees and stared out the back window as we left. They were pouring out of the station as if to confirm that we weren’t coming back.

We laughed till we cried. Many times I wanted to go back to that station, strike up a conversation and ask if anything strange ever occurred around these parts. I never did, it would’ve been anticlimactic. Nothing could ever touch the joy we felt having made these folks lives weirdly surreal on that one hot southern day.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

:) That made me smile. I'm a student in high school working at a funeral home in hopes of deciding whether or not to pursue that career in my future. I'll definitely be reading some more of your blog posts and probably commenting those too :)

Anna

Jak Manson said...

I for one am really glad that we have funeral services. It can help the mourning process go by a lot faster not doing these things yourself. I know that I am happy that these services are here to help out like they do.
Jak Manson | http://www.christmansfuneralhome.com